Fayetteville Tapped for Vet Center
U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), U.S. Representative John Boozman (R-AR) and the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) today announced the expansion of its vet center program into Fayetteville.
Fayetteville is one of 23 communities across the nation to receive a new vet center over the next two years. The vet center program provides readjustment counseling and outreach services to combat veterans. The facilities are an important resource for veterans returning from the Global War on Terror and their families.
"Our veterans - the men and women who have sacrificed so greatly on our behalf - deserve the best care available when returning home from combat," Lincoln said. "The veterans' center will provide veterans and their families with the counseling and outreach services they need and have earned.
"Our veterans put their lives on the line to protect us and the principles that define this country. In return we must commit to providing them with the services and care they need and deserve," Pryor said. "I am very pleased the VA has announced that it will be expanding their services in Fayetteville. Outreach centers like this are even more critical as veterans return in large numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan."
"This is an important service for veterans across the country, and especially in Arkansas," said Boozman, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "The VA has done a great service to Arkansas veterans by giving them another option to seek out assistance. As more and more of our men and women return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for facilities like the vet centers will become even more important."
Arkansas already maintains one vet center, in North Little Rock. Other centers in the region include Tulsa, Okla.; Wichita, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Memphis, Tenn.
New vet centers will be located in Montgomery, Ala.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Modesto, Calif.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Orlando, Fort Myers, and Gainesville, Fla.; Macon, Ga.; Manhattan, Kan.; Baton Rouge, La.; Cape Cod, Mass.; Saginaw and Iron Mountain, Mich.; Berlin, N.H.; Las Cruces, N.M.; Binghamton, Middletown, Nassau County and Watertown, N.Y.; Toledo, Ohio; Du Bois, Penn.; Killeen, Texas; and Everett, Wash.
During 2007, VA plans to open new facilities in Grand Junction, Orlando, Cape Cod, Iron Mountain, Berlin and Watertown.
The other new vet centers, including Fayetteville, are scheduled to open in 2008.
All vet centers are community-based, and provide counseling on mental health and employment, plus services on family issues, education, bereavement and outreach, to combat veterans and their families. The centers are staffed by small teams of counselors, outreach specialists and other specialists, many of whom are combat veterans themselves.
The vet center program was established by Congress in 1979 in recognition that a significant number of Vietnam veterans were still experiencing readjustment problems. Today, all veterans who served in combat are eligible for care at a VA vet center at no cost, as are their families for military-related issues. Also eligible are veterans who were sexually assaulted or harassed while on active duty and the families of service members who die on active duty.
Currently, VA maintains 209 vet centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.